Miscericordias Domini (2014)
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
May 4, 2014
Central Passage
John 10:11-16

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Death is always the enemy. Death is never good. But there is such a thing as a good death. Jesus died a good death, entrusting Himself to the one who judges justly. The martyrs die a good death; entrusting themselves to the one who judges justly. The Christian life is really the life lived so that one may die a good death.

By attending this divine gathering wherein the eternal God blesses you with His word and mysteries, wherein He makes His holy salvation known to you in the breaking of the bread, and wherein we offer up our prayers and supplications, calling upon the Lord for all things, by attending this gathering and eating of the Table of the Lord and rejoicing in His temple, you, dear Christian, are preparing to die well.

Those outside the church; those that do not fill this hallowed hall or participate in the divine mysteries of God, they are not preparing to die well. They will not have a good death. They do not now entrust themselves to the one who judges justly – as you do – so they will not then. Perhaps one or two, a handful of them will do so on their death bed, but that is no comfort for who knows when a man’s soul is required of him or how he will leave this earth. So we pray in the Great Litany that the good Lord deliver us “from sudden and evil death.”

An evil death is the death of one that does not entrust himself to the one who judges justly.

So when the unbeliever asks you why you continue to attend the Lord’s gathering when it seems the Lord has abandoned you to sickness or poverty or a maligned reputation, you may say confidently to them: “I go to prepare to die a good death.” Let them ruminate on that for a while. For the fact that you do not deny death but face it head on will give them pause as they try to always avoid death and can’t stand the thought of it. The Law will begin to crush them that they, too, will die one day. But then they will also hear the good news that there is such a thing as a good death, though death is never good. They will wonder at how you prepare yourselves to die a good death and perhaps the Lord will show them mercy and will call them to Himself by your witness as you do as your Lord Jesus did and prepare to die well.

For in truth, that is how the Lord Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd. He leads His little flock through this valley of the shadow of death so that His little flock would die well that they might also be raised from death to life.

But who wants a shepherd that leads his flocks to death? But that is not what I said. He leads His flocks through death; just as He Himself went through death to life. He, being the Son of the Father and without sin – that is, without idolatry – entrusted Himself to God who promised to bring Him from death to life. Jesus’ faith is now your faith. That is what Jesus teaches you as your Teacher. The faith that He has in His heavenly Father He gives to you, for faith is a gift. And this faith, this perfect and undefiled faith of Jesus is the faith that now sustains you as you prepare to meet death as your Lord met death. Not in fear and trembling, not in sorrow. But in boldness and confidence and in joy!

For death is not undefeated but by the resurrection of Jesus death is defeated; by His stripes you are healed. And the promises of God find their “yes” in Christ who now brings you with Himself through death and into life. For you were buried with Him through Baptism into death in order that just as He was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, you too may walk in the new life.

The Christian is one who prepares to die a good death; to die entrusting himself to the one who judges justly. He judges justly not based on us but based on Him into whom we are baptized and on whom we have placed our hope. The Lord Jesus made the good confession that His heavenly Father’s will is done and that He would not be abandoned to the grave. So the eternal Father blessed the Son with eternal life because He committed Himself to Him. Jesus’ good confession is now your good confession. Jesus’ faith is now your faith. Jesus’ life is now your life, even as His death is now your death.

Your Good Shepherd leads you, listen to His voice.

+ In Nomine Iesu +